Smart Assistants – organizing your activities has never been easier
I’m not sure if you are a Star Trek fan, but I’m sure you know about the high-tech envisioned back then. It seems that the Star Trek technologies are actually coming to be a reality. First we had a touchscreen device that every human seems to be interacting with and now, we have really smart personal assistants.
Personal assistant apps using voice recognition technology have become very popular over the last few months. Just by speaking to our phone, we now have the ability to send email, buy movie tickets, learn about our community and much more.
Voice recognition has been around a long time, going back to the Microsoft Windows mobile platforms and the old PDAs. Today’s renewed interest results from improvements in the natural user-interface that make for better recognition of normal speech. Also, it has much do with the development of the cloud, which enables the necessary processing.
At the same time, virtual agents and chatbots will be the top consumer applications of artificial intelligence over the next five years, according to a consensus poll released by Tech Emergence, a marketing research firm for AI and machine learning. The emphasis on virtual agents and chatbots is in many ways not surprising. After all, the tech industry’s major companies have all made big bets: Apple with Siri, Amazon with Alexa and Echo, Facebook with M and Messenger, Google with Google Assistant, Microsoft with Cortana and Tay.
Smart virtual assistants come in many forms, and there are alternatives that can suit your requirements accordingly. So, here are some of the best personal assistant apps you can get your hands on right away.
- Speaktoit – is an advanced personal assistant that works very similar to Siri. The app can send messages, make calls, search and open websites, find places of interest, read news, get weather data and do almost every little thing that a personal assistant app does. Speaktoit also features excellent calendar and task handling.
- Google Now – is not really an app but comes built right in with Google Search, allowing you to dictate texts and emails, play music or show a map with voice commands. Turn on the personalized voice-recognition capability through the Settings function, and Google will learn how you speak and improve its responses. Google Now also has a great voice command feature, and it acts as a simple virtual assistant by delivering weather and traffic updates, sports scores and other information you may be interested in. Simply say, “OK Google Now,” and tell the app what you want it to do, such as “call Dad,” “go to rickscloud.com,” “show me my schedule for the week” and many more possibilities.
- Amazon Echo – Amazon’s new smart-home device, the Amazon Echo, has been one of the most hyped products of 2015. It can best be thought of as a voice-driven personal assistant, but in hands-free speaker form. The Echo accepts voice commands and performs a variety of tasks, from playing (and purchasing) music, to creating shopping lists, and completing simple web searches.
- Voice Assistant – is a virtual assistant that helps you with stuff like searching for things on Google, get directions, get weather data etc. Voice Assistant is quite a power-packed assistant with a lot of features including great language support. It almost accurately parses your speech (to text) and this text can be used in a variety of ways. You can post to Twitter or Facebook, share the text to Pages, Evernote, Dropbox etc., or have the phrase looked up in Google or YouTube.
- 24me – is an app that auto-generates reminders so you will never miss an important meeting or event, or forget to pay a bill. 24me combines your calendar, to-do lists and notes all in one easy to use, clutter free app. It syncs with other apps like Facebook to send messages to your friends on their birthday in case it slipped your mind, lets you share notes with coworkers or friends, and combines just about every part of your life into one package.
I’m quite excited about the personal assistant apps and the market in general because that’s where cutting-edge artificial intelligence turns into practical stuff that can be used in normal life. One day soon, we will be able to talk to our gadgets the way we talk to our friends. And our gadgets will talk back. They will be able to hear what we say and figure out what we mean. Exciting, isn’t it?